Friday, August 25, 2017

Tropic of Kansas and the Michelada




Christopher Brown, the author of the dystopian novel, Tropic of Kansas, is here today mixing drinks and telling tales. Christopher was nominated for a World Fantasy Award for the anthology Three Messages and a Warning: Contemporary Mexican Short Stories of the Fantastic. His short fiction has appeared in a variety of magazines and anthologies, including MIT Technology Review’s “Twelve Tomorrows,”The Baffler, and Stories for Chip. He lives in Austin, Texas.





Tropic of Kansas is a dark road trip through a dystopian mirror America, in search of the better futures that might lie on the other side. It follows two characters on a journey through a barren heartland policed by citizen militias and autonomous drones: Sig, the fugitive orphan of political dissidents who gets deported from Canada back to a U.S.A. that has been walled off from the other side, and his foster sister Tania, a government investigator coerced into hunting Sig after he escapes from a Midwestern Guantanamo.  They seek sanctuary in the run-down cities and colonized countryside of a nation bled dry by greed and injustice, ultimately finding the only way to get there is by fighting to secure a new future, at great personal cost.

Yes, they stop for drinks along the way.

Tropic of Kansas is a book about borders, about the arbitrary lines on the map that define what a country is, lines that can’t change the liminality of identity no matter how thickly drawn or heavily fortified the line may be. It’s a story about regular people, the people for whom the best parts of the future are most unevenly distributed. It's a story about the land on which we live, and our relationship with it. It’s a realist dystopia, constructed from the material of the observed world. 

One of the bars Sig and his information-smuggler buddy Moco visit draws from a real place I have visited in the Texas borderlands, a place where the ingredients of other cultures thrive in the interstices of the American metropolis, hiding in plain sight, mixing with and appropriating the available material to reinvent their own reality. This cocktail is one you could probably get if you stopped for happy hour in El Agasajo, where the Mexican drone techs party after work in the industrial blocks of the St. Louis Restoration Zone. It’s cocktail that hydrates and nourishes, using simple and unpretentious ingredients.

Serve it as cold as you can, because the planet is burning.




Ingredients

100% agave Mexican tequila. 

Inexpensive mass-production U.S.A.-made lager beer, ideally Budweiser repackaged as America. Lone Star will also do.

Clamato, or a mix of tomato juice and clam juice.

Mexican salsa picante, such as Cholula.

Worcestershire sauce.

Lime.

Himalayan sea salt.  

Ice.

Instructions: 
  • Take about a tablespoon of the sea salt and sprinkle it on a plate or cutting board. Rub sliced lime around the rim of the glass (preferably a 12 oz drinking glass) and then press the rim into the salt, encrusting it2.
  • Fill the glass with ice. They don’t need to be fancy cocktail cubes, just plain old tap water from the fridge or the cooler.
  • Fill the glass 1/3 with Clamato or a mix of tomato juice and clam juice.
  • Add one shot of tequila.
  • Add one lime’s worth of fresh lime juice, two dashes of salsa picante, and two dashes of Worcestershire sauce. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different mixes, or to add weird additional ingredients.
  • Add beer to the rim of the glass.
  • Stir the contents and enjoy the results.
  • Repeat as necessary.

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